Like Doves to their Windows: Chiasmus in Orson Hyde’s Dedication of the Holy Land

Orson Hyde: A Life of Lessons Learned
Orson Hyde (rsc.byu.edu)

Orson Hyde was ordained an original member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on February 15, 1835. In addition to his other responsibilities, Elder Hyde was given multiple inspired directives concerning a future ministry to the Jews, including a blessing given by Joseph Smith following his baptism in 1831:

“In due time thou shalt go to Jerusalem, the land of thy fathers, and be a watchman unto the house of Israel; and by thy hands shall the Most High do a great work, which shall prepare the way and greatly facilitate the gathering together of that people” (History of the Church 4:375).

In fulfillment of these directives, Orson Hyde requested and was appointed at the April 1840 General Conference of the Church “to visit the Jews” (History of the Church 4:106-9). After traveling through New York, London, Amsterdam, Constantinople, and Jerusalem — making contact with prominent Jewish leaders along the way and publishing a pamphlet entitled “An Address to the Hebrews” — Elder Hyde ascended the Mount of Olives on the morning of Sunday, October 24, 1841 and offered a prayer of dedication. (History of the Church 4:372-9; 4:384-5; 4:388; 4:454-9).

Orson Hyde’s inspired prayer contains chiastic and parallel structures that offer insight into the destiny and responsibilities of modern Judah. In this article, we present a diagram and detailed analysis of one extensive chiasm, followed by a less detailed treatment of an additional chiasm and a parallelism.


Diagram and Analysis:

A: Let the land become abundantly fruitful when possessed by its rightful heirs; let it again flow with plenty to feed the returning prodigals who come home with a spirit of grace and supplication;
B: upon it let the clouds distil virtue and richness, and let the fields smile with plenty.
C: Let the flocks and the herds greatly increase and multiply upon the mountains and the hills;
D: and let Thy great kindness conquer and subdue the unbelief of Thy people.
E: Do Thou take from them their stony heart,
E: and give them a heart of flesh;
D: and may the Sun of Thy favor dispel the cold mists of darkness which have beclouded their atmosphere.
C: Incline them to gather in upon this land according to Thy word.
B: Let them come like clouds and like doves to their windows.
A: Let the large ships of the nations bring them from the distant isles; and let kings become their nursing fathers, and queens with motherly fondness wipe the tear of sorrow from their eye.

orson hyde_dedication_holy land
History of the Church 4:456 (books.google.com)

A=A: “Let the land become abundantly fruitful when possessed by its rightful heirs” is complemented by “[l]et the large ships of the nations bring them from the distant isles… .” As the “rightful heirs” return, the Holy Land will become “abundantly fruitful … to feed the returning prodigals.” This change in the land will happen for two reasons. First, Judah will “come home with a spirit of grace and supplication,” allowing the Lord to bless them. Second, in addition to providing transportation for Judah, the kings and queens of the earth will “wipe the tear of sorrow from their eye” by aiding in their development.

B=B: “Let the clouds distil virtue and richness” compares with “[l]et them come like clouds.” As Judah returns “like clouds and like doves” (Ezra Taft Benson suggests this refers to airplanes), needed moisture will fall from the clouds, watering the land and causing the “fields to smile with plenty.” This prosperity will result from Judah’s “virtue and richness,” by which they will govern the land.

C=C: “Let the flocks and the herds greatly increase and multiply” is complemented by “[i]ncline them to gather in upon this land.” As the population of Judah increases in the Holy Land, the “flocks and herds” will “greatly increase and multiply upon the mountains and the hills.” Judah will become an economic power throughout the nations of the earth.

D=D: “[L]et Thy great kindness conquer and subdue the unbelief of Thy people” compares metaphorically to  “may the Sun of Thy favor dispel the cold mists of darkness which have beclouded their atmosphere.” As Judah rises from obscurity, their unbelief and biases will fade away.

E=E: “[T]ake from them their stony heart” contrasts with “give them a heart of flesh.” Central to the prosperity of Judah will be their changed heart, whereby they are receptive to the influence of the Lord. As a result, modern Judah will experience a fulfillment of Moses’s promise to the House of Israel that “if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments…. [b]lessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep…. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand” (see Deuteronomy 28:1-14). This humility and obedience will eventually lead them to recognize and embrace Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah.


Additional Parallel and Chiastic Structures:

#1: This parallelism explains that the gathering and prosperity of Judah in the latter-days is the fulfillment of the covenant God made anciently with their fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

A: “O Thou, Who didst covenant with Abraham, Thy friend, and who didst renew that covenant with Isaac, and confirm the same with Jacob with an oath,
B: that Thou wouldst not only give them this land for an everlasting inheritance, but that Thou wouldst also remember their seed forever.
A: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long since closed their eyes in death, and made the grave their mansion.
B: Their children are scattered and dispersed abroad among the nations of the Gentiles like sheep that have no shepherd, and are still looking forward for the fulfillment of those promises which Thou didst make concerning them;


#2: This chiasm describes how the Holy Land became barren and sterile following the crucifixion of Christ in the meridian of time. But in the last days, through the atonement of Christ, the Holy Land will be healed and once again teem with productive agriculture.

A: and even this land, which once poured forth nature’s richest bounty, and flowed, as it were, with milk and honey, has, to a certain extent, been smitten with barrenness and sterility
B: since it drank from murderous hands the blood of Him who never sinned.
B: “Grant, therefore, O Lord, in the name of Thy well-beloved Son, Jesus Christ,
A: to remove the barrenness and sterility of this land, and let springs of living water break forth to water its thirsty soil. Let the vine and olive produce in their strength, and the fig-tree bloom and flourish.


Conclusion:

The presence of chiasmus in Orson Hyde’s dedication of the Holy Land provides a method for developing a deeper understanding of the gathering of Judah in modern times. Specifically, it shows a direct connection between their gathering, their prosperity (including a tempering of the climate and an increased productivity of the land), their humility before the Lord, and the promises given anciently to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. As these conditions continue to develop, the prophecies contained in this inspired prayer will reach fulfillment, including their hearts being prepared to accept Jesus Christ as their promised Messiah.

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